CMU Holds On to Beat Akron, 65-64

MOUNT PLEASANT - A big defensive play in the closing seconds proved to be the difference for Central Michigan as the Chippewas downed Mid-American Conference co-leader Akron, 65-64, on Saturday afternoon in Rose Arena.

Akron had the ball down one with 17 seconds left when Giordan Watson poked it loose from Nick Dials and batted it down the court. The ball went into the backcourt and Dials was able to chase it down but not before precious seconds had ticked off. Dials and the Zips scrambled to try and get a last-second shot off but a Steve McNees trey attempt from the top of the key did not beat the clock.

"I'm so proud of our young men," CMU head coach Ernie Zeigler said. "The true test of character is how you respond to adversity. We were at a low on Tuesday with a bad loss against our arch rival Western Michigan. But, we looked within ourselves and re-established our toughness."

The win was CMU's fifth straight at home and improved the Chippewas to 8-10 overall and 3-3 in the MAC. Akron suffered its second straight loss and fell to 14-5 overall, 4-2 in the MAC.

Key to the victory was CMU's ability to hold the MAC's leading offense and three-point attack to just 64 points, a .395 field goal percentage and a .333 three-point percentage. Akron entered the game averaging 73.8 points while shooting .384 from three-point range and draining 8.5 treys per game.

"We really tried to limit Akron's three-point attempts," Zeigler said. "They came in averaging 22 three-point attempts per game and we held them to nine."

Nate Minnoy had game highs of 21 points and six rebounds while sophomore guard Robbie Harman added a career-high 14 off the bench, including a pair of three-pointers.

Three Zips hit twin figures with Jeremiah Wood posting a team-high 16 while Dials had a solid all-around game with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Akron led by six in the early going but CMU held the lead for the final seven minutes of the first half. The Chippewas were up nine, 27-18, but Akron whittled it down to a five-point cushion at the half, 33-28.

The Zips' only lead of the second half came with 2:50 remaining when Dials hit a step back three from the wing that gave the visitors a 62-61 advantage. After Harman hit a long two to put CMU back up by one, Dials split a pair of free throws to knot it back up at 63-63.

Minnoy drove for a go-ahead layup with a minute and a half left and another free throw miss cost Akron as Quade Milum split a pair with 1:21 remaining.

Neither team scored the rest of the way as Watson was called for a charge with 17 seconds left setting up Akron's final possession where the Chippewas held.

Central Michigan shot 50 percent from the floor going 26-for-52, but struggled from both the arc (2-for-13) and the line (11-for-19). Central outrebounded Akron 32-27 and the Chippewas forced 20 turnovers.

Next up for CMU is a Tuesday night road game at Ohio. Tipoff in the Convocation Center in Athens is set for 7 p.m., and the game can been seen on ESPN's Full Court service and ESPN360.com.


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